Any content you create should include headlines and I am going to give you 4 reasons why.
1. Reaching Target Audiences
Many readers scan headlines quickly to determine if they want to read a web page, article and even print materials. You want to give headlines that indicate what information you are going to discuss and try to reach your target market.
Example: “Save Money on Insurance and Protect your Home Against Hurricanes”. As someone who lives in Florida and pays two arms and a leg for homeowners insurance (because of hurricanes) I would be very interested in finding out how I can save money on insurance. You want to create headlines that serve you in multiple ways and also convince your target audience(s) to read.
The headline in the example above would help the reader make a decision and also reach a targeted audience that has to deal with hurricanes and wants to save money on insurance.
2. Scannability – Provide Information
When people read they often scan the headlines first. These headlines should provide information on what your page or content is about and what individual sections will be covering. With headlines you are letting people see right away what topics will be discussed and the goal is to entice them to take the time to read each section.
Website pages and printed marketing materials are difficult for some people to read when there is nothing but paragraphs. Keep in mind that there is a good number of people that will never take the a lot of time to read through the paragraphs anyway. They often will scan the headlines for the main subject area and then scan through the paragraphs for supporting information.
Your headlines need to inform, entice and sell all on their own.
3. Memory Serves
For the analytical readers that take the time to read through everything, headlines can help remind them where something they were interested in was located in an article, a web page or even a brochure. This is important because you want people to point out important information to those that might make the final sales decisions. If you are a blogger you may want people to remember the good points that will help them the most.
Oftentimes people remember that something important was under one headline or the other. By creating good headlines that provide information you are also helping people remember the points that matter the most to them.
4. Search Engines
SEO isn’t easy to explain, but I am going to try and make this explanation as basic as possible for business owners. Good headlines on the web are put in to “h tags”. Headlines in h tags can serve a purpose for search engines and SEO Copywriting, while also breaking up content and offering visual appeal. There has been much discussion over the last couple of years regarding how important the headline tags are or how much weight they hold with search algorithms. However, nearly all the SEO websites I read have headline tags in place for SEO purposes.
A Basic Description
First let’s start with a quote from the fabulous Dave Snyder, “I always like to explain H tags as an outline for a paper in school … your paper has a title (title tag) which defines it completely, but still has a Roman Numeral 1 (h1) to identify the first main idea. Everything under it is sub-ideas and sub-sub-ideas.”
This H1 tells the search engines what the article or page is about. The overall goals of the h tags is to support the overall SEO strategy set up for a page. So if your page is about “Chocolate Wine” the H1 would most likely include the term “Chocolate Wine” to help the search engines understand what the subject of the page is. The hope would be that the page would get indexed highly (page one) for “Chocolate Wine” (there is a lot more needed to reach that goal, but you get the gist).
There are other h tags – H2, H3, H4, H5 etc. Typically the H2 is the second most important phrase/concept/keyword on a page. The following headlines can support the overall SEO goals set for the page, but the most important job is informing and enticing the reader. Example:
<h1>iPhone 5 – What is New and What Isn’t.</h1>
<h2>iPhone 5 Color Options – Which is better?</h2>
<h3> iPhone 5 Capacity Options – 16G, 32G, 64G- What you need to know! </h3>
So if a search engine came across a page or article with these headlines, with supporting paragraphs, they would know that the main subject was the iPhone 5 and its options. The reader would know this as well, but would hopefully be enticed to read and learn about what is new, what isn’t and what they need to know about capacity options. Notice that those headlines are also informative and are scannable.
Headlines are important for several reasons and serve multiple purposes. Good headlines will serve all four purposes I have explained, but planning is often required. They will help people decide if they should bother reading your page/ article or not while targeting a specific audience(s). They help break up paragraphs for easy reading and help readers scan the page. Headlines can help people remember where important points are located in an article and they can also support the SEO strategies set in place for a page/article.
Headlines are important, don’t forget to use them.